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CynicalScouter

"Establish minimum standards to be considered a council"

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@Eagle94-A1 My council went thru this with a merger a few years ago. It got real messy. The council being merged with ours had a very large endowment fund. one of the main reasons that caused the merger was that the council being merged only had 600 youth listed; after after a membership audit it was found that they were only 300 youth in the entire council. Long time volunteers changed the locks on the council offices/store and moved the endowment funds into a hidden account and refused to turn everything over. This ended up in a court battle and in the end everything had to be turned over. as a side note this council became it's own district in my council but was merged with another district last year.

 

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1 hour ago, Eagle94-A1 said:

This brings up a question I have : what happens to a council's endowment when it is dissolved and absorbed by multiple councils?

My guess is that all of the endowments will disappear during the bankruptcy.  There is no way the lawyers will leave them intact with your council or any other councils.  Bye bye endowment funds.

My question is about mergers.  Why is a failing council automatically merged into other councils?  If a council fails, why couldn't they let the community form a new council within the same boundaries?  Or maybe the better solution is to break up a failing council into smaller councils.   

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4 minutes ago, David CO said:

My guess is that all of the endowments will disappear during the bankruptcy.  There is no way the lawyers will leave them intact with your council or any other councils.  Bye bye endowment funds.

My question is about mergers.  Why is a failing council automatically merged into other councils?  If a council fails, why couldn't they let the community form a new council within the same boundaries?  Or maybe the better solution is to break up a failing council into smaller councils.   

Right, that's what the lawyers want: all council assets including endowments. It remains to be seen if they get them.

As for mega-merging, depends on why it failed. For example, when LDS left I know several councils in Utah mega-merged because it made no sense to have a council with 12 units. And breaking a failing council into smaller ones doesn't always make sense either because now you could get a council that is district-size or smaller.
As for letting the community form a new council, I am not sure I understand. The only way that would work (that I can see of) is that a new entity is formed and incorporated (NEW COUNCIL, LLC), any and all staff or board members of OLD COUNCIL, LLC are removed, and all assets of OLD COUNCIL, LLC are transferred to NEW COUNCIL, LLC. Is that the kind of thing you are talking about?

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2 minutes ago, David CO said:

My question is about mergers.  Why is a failing council automatically merged into other councils?  If a council fails, why couldn't they let the community form a new council within the same boundaries?  Or maybe the better solution is to break up a failing council into smaller councils.   

I don't know. I guess the belief is that if the exec committee failed once, it will fail again?

What  I do know there are a multitude of factors affecting my council and the ability to retain quality volunteers. We are in a very conservative part of the country, and membership changes over the past 10 years have affected volunteer retention. Those that remained have been burned by the professional staff. We have had professionals overrule volunteers in charge of events. We have dedicated and knowledgeable volunteers being ignored and removed from council level positions, to be replaced with 'yes men." We have had some volunteer positions deliberately left vacant (my district had no chairman, thus no representation, for over 3 years, and before that the DC got so frustrated, he stepped down). We have had volunteers yelled at and cursed out by professionals when the volunteers disagreed with professionals' decisions or where the professional is at. Volunteers have not been kept informed, i.e. conditional charter for the past 4 years, or lied to, i.e. being told one thing only to find out later it was a completely different reason. It has gotten to the point that some volunteers cannot wait for the council to be dissolved and  disseminated amongst neighboring councils. They do not believe things could be worse.

But I know otherwise.I have been through a district merger, and know how things can cause problems. I also know that this council does not enforce a lot of rules and policies that other councils do enforce. In fact when one ranger tried to enforce some standard rules regarding the camp, he was told to let it be to be "camper friendly." I think a lot of folks will be in for a rude awakening when the mergers hits.

 

 

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Council Standards.  There really isn't anything wrong with the notion that councils should possess certain financial, operational, membership and programmatic attributes in order to offer Scouting in a geographic territory.  That's really the point of JTE and its predecessors as applied on a council basis.  In the past, when a current executive board was unable to sustain a reasonable level of those attributes, they were encouraged to consider merging.  The success and failure of those combinations usually depended on how well the personalities of the combining organizations were and whether they were then able to address the difficulties.  It often takes years for these "merger of equals" to result in meaningful benefits to the youth participants, because resulting volunteer leadership (sometimes urged on by professionals) don't make the necessary changes and enhancements.  

I'm a supporter of withdrawing the chargers of such councils and forming fresh boards to replace them -- often in combination with other low-performing councils.  The new board is not comprised of the under-performing past leadership but fresh folks that are willing to move on what needs to be done.  In this manner, two or three underperforming previous council do not become a huge underperforming council with leaders and professionals who squabble over power and properties.

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Council or Unit Assets Upon Dissolution Consistent with the Bylaws, in the event of the dissolution of a council or the revocation or lapse of its charter, the Executive Committee may, at its option, authorize the National Council to assume charge of the affairs of the council and continue operation pending reorganization or re-establishment of the council or wind up the business of the council. All funds and property in the possession or control of such council must be applied to the payment of the council’s obligations. Any surplus funds or property may thereafter be administered as deemed to be in the best interest of Scouting. In the event of the dissolution of a unit or the revocation or lapse of its charter, unit funds and assets must be used to first satisfy any outstanding unit obligations. Any remaining assets obtained with funds raised in the name of Scouting must be redeployed for Scouting use in the local area. Any assets obtained with funds from the chartered organization or parents of registered members may be redeployed as agreed upon by the chartered organization and local council. Any property or funds acquired by the National Council upon the dissolution of a Scouting unit or local council will be administered so as to make effective, as far as possible, the intentions and wishes of the donors.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, CynicalScouter said:

As for letting the community form a new council, I am not sure I understand. The only way that would work (that I can see of) is that a new entity is formed and incorporated (NEW COUNCIL, LLC), any and all staff or board members of OLD COUNCIL, LLC are removed, and all assets of OLD COUNCIL, LLC are transferred to NEW COUNCIL, LLC. Is that the kind of thing you are talking about?

I don't think there will be any assets left after the bankruptcy worth considering.  So I'm not at all concerned about transferring assets.  I believe BSA and most of the councils will be wiped out by the bankruptcy.  They won't exist anymore.  I think it would be useful if the Chartered Organizations and their scout leaders started to think about how they are going to reboot scouting after the dust settles.

I think the newly formed councils will have to start out small.  What were the minimum standards for a council back when BSA first started?  That's the kind of thing I'm talking about.

 

Edited by David CO

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Posted (edited)
44 minutes ago, David CO said:

 I believe BSA and most of the councils will be wiped out by the bankruptcy.  They won't exist anymore...What were the minimum standards for a council back when BSA first started? 

I do not see a bankruptcy judge approving any plan which results in the elimination of National in its entirety, forcing the organization to return its charter to Congress, and disbanding/liquidating 200+ councils. It may be what some plaintiffs lawyers want, it does not mean they will get it.

That said, I see a crippled National and 100 mega-merged Councils that may or may not operate cooperatively or well.

As for minimum standard from 1910-1913 there was none. From 1913- they standard was they had to have a charter from National.

Edited by CynicalScouter

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36 minutes ago, David CO said:

I believe BSA and most of the councils will be wiped out by the bankruptcy.  They won't exist anymore. 

The lead lawyer has stated at least twice that I have personally heard in public interviews (NPR's DIANE RHEEM SHOW is the one I remember of the top of my head, and it was around the end of the interview) that the dissolution of the BSA is his goal.

 

38 minutes ago, David CO said:

 I think it would be useful if the Chartered Organizations and their scout leaders started to think about how they are going to reboot scouting after the dust settles.

Baden-Powell Service Association? Trails Life?

 

38 minutes ago, David CO said:

I think the newly formed councils will have to start out small.  What were the minimum standards for a council back when BSA first started?  That's the kind of thing I'm talking about.

I am willing to bet the volunteers will have no problems. But what will the pros do? Sadly they control BSA, and not the volunteers, despite how it is suppose to be done. Instead of getting the best people for the job, I was told to get the most agreeable when I was a DE.

 

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JTE is a wishful concept that came out of SMART goals, which gives little guidance on running a non-profit. So scrap JTE and start over. I do not know how to run a non-profit, so talk to someone that does on the requirements for this. But here are my observations.

Ensure the board is separate from the staff and does its job. The board is not a fundraising mechanism. It is a way to check the staff and ensure the council is serving the needs of the youth.

Budget issues are what pollutes the motivation of the council, so ensure the budget is watched closely and it's transparent to everyone. A balanced budget doesn't imply the needs of the youth are being met.

Leadership is important in a council, ensure there's a process for hiring and promoting good people from anywhere, ensuring there's enough money to pay them (rather than through event fees, like my council does) and that poor performers are either improved or let go. That includes the CE.

The council's primary job is ensuring the units are successful. It is not accounting or membership. I'm not sure how to measure whether a unit is successful, but JTE style metrics is not it. Is the troop actively run by the scouts? Are the scouts having fun? Is there a pipeline of leadership and growth for all members of a unit (scouts and adults)? Do all the members of a unit understand the fundamentals - that are not described ... anywhere?

 

 

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53 minutes ago, MattR said:

The council's primary job is ensuring the units are successful. It is not accounting or membership. I'm not sure how to measure whether a unit is successful, but JTE style metrics is not it. Is the troop actively run by the scouts? Are the scouts having fun? Is there a pipeline of leadership and growth for all members of a unit (scouts and adults)? Do all the members of a unit understand the fundamentals - that are not described ... anywhere?

Might just go back to  B-P's  book. The first one.   Add on the Youth Safety Training requirements.  Scout Promise, Scout Law.   Encourage the Scouts to speak up if they see/hear something that does not agree with these.  Speak up to who ?  The Scout/Cubmaster, their parents,  the Unit Commissioner, who should be visible and known.  

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1 hour ago, CynicalScouter said:

I do not see a bankruptcy judge approving any plan which results in the elimination of National in its entirety, forcing the organization to return its charter to Congress, and disbanding/liquidating 200+ councils. It may be what some plaintiffs lawyers want, it does not mean they will get it.

Woohoo.  I guess this means I am even more cynical than CynicalScouter.  That's quite an achievement!  :D

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1 hour ago, Eagle94-A1 said:

I am willing to bet the volunteers will have no problems. But what will the pros do? 

Who cares?

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22 minutes ago, David CO said:

Woohoo.  I guess this means I am even more cynical than CynicalScouter.  That's quite an achievement!  :D

Not cynicism as much as legal; in other words I think the plaintiffs would like it, but I cannot find a legal basis that would force a Congressionally chartered organization to return their charter to Congress. In other words, yes, plaintiffs will drain national and the councils dry of funds, but not utterly shut them down.

This goes back to the Dale lawsuit when certain members of Congress tried to revoke the Scouts Charter. During the debates the argument was that a) the organization could return its charter to Congress b) all applicable members of the chartered organization die (e.g. Grand Army of the Republic, United Spanish War Veterans, Veterans of World War I of the United States) or c) Congress could revoke the charter it BUT a court couldn't do so.

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4 minutes ago, CynicalScouter said:

I cannot find a legal basis that would force a Congressionally chartered organization to return their charter to Congress. In other words, yes, plaintiffs will drain national and the councils dry of funds, but not utterly shut them down.

I don't think councils are protected by the congressional charter.

I think a smart lawyer could argue that, by seeking bankruptcy protection, BSA has surrendered (to the bankruptcy courts) the authority to give back the congressional charter and shut it down. 

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